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APCE conference goers hear from committee assessing role Christian Education has played in faith formation

Group asks ‘Where have we been? Where are we going?’

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

Charlotte Allbright, member of the GA 222 (2016) special committee to study Christian Education, at the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators gathering in Louisville. (Photo by Paul Seebeck)

LOUISVILLE — “Where have we been? Where are we going?”

These questions were part of a topic forum discussion at the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE) conference meeting here yesterday.

Members of a General Assembly 222 (2016) special committee created to study the Reformed Perspective of Christian Education in the 21st century led the discussion asking APCE attendees what they would like them to know as they address these questions.

Charged with assessing the role Christian education and Certified Christian Educators have played in faith formation, the committee will report back to the 223rd General Assembly (2018) in St. Louis.

One primary recommendation the committee will make is that Christian education and faith formation should be a lifelong process. Committee members said it “is at the heart of the mission” of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that “values faith seeking understanding and knowing about God — but even more, values our knowing God.”

For committee chair Stephanie Fritz, the faith formation language is intentional.

“We want to shift the traditional understanding of Christian education as the Sunday school hour with children,” she said. “Faith formation is about lifelong learning and it happens across congregational living. It is intergenerational.”

Research and study conducted on Christian education and faith formation, through an online survey that drew more than 500 responses across the denomination, led the nine-member committee to conclude that the future of Christian education and faith formation will have a renewed focus on intergenerational ministry.

They asserted this will require the training, resourcing and lifting up a diverse range of educators including certified and homegrown Christian educators, pastors, committed lay leaders and more.

The committee is continuing work on its recommendations for Christian education and faith formation to this summer’s General Assembly. They hope the report will encourage greater collaboration with partners like the office of Christian formation in Presbyterian Mission, which works closely with covenant partners to engage in formation work at camp and conference centers — and as youth workers and collegiate ministers.

“One of things that is informing us, that we believe strongly,” Fritz said, “is that faith formation happens in a wide variety of contexts.”

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The nine committee members are Stephanie Fritz (moderator), Charlotte Allbright, Sung Hee Chang, Emily Chudy, Becky D’Angelo Veitch, John Johnson, Melissa Kirkpatrick, Elba Irizarry Ramirez and Matthew Rhodes.

Jason Brian Santos, Coordinator for Christian Formation and National Director of UKirk Collegiate Ministries, is the committee staff resource person for PMA.

Martha Miller, a Certification and Christian Vocation associate, is the OGA staff resource person.


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